Date: 29/10/2013

Ashton Community Trust has been named Social Enterprise of the Year at a glittering award ceremony in the City Hotel, Derry.

Ashton Community Trust Chief Executive Paul Roberts said he was thrilled with the award.

“We are delighted to be named as Social Enterprise of the Year and for all of our staff’s hard work to be recognised in this way. Ashton’s core ethos is to act as a social enterprise and development trust and work towards making North Belfast a better place to live. It does this through a range of social enterprise and labour market programmes which includes: Kinderkids Daycare; Culture and Arts; FabLab; Bridge of Hope; New Lodge Youth Centre; and Employment & Training Services.

“We are grateful to everyone who has worked with us in recent years as this award is recognition of that collective effort and would not have been possible without such widespread support.”

Ashton’s policy of reinvesting in the North Belfast community has meant that the majority of the workforce are local people, which in turn has brought stability to an area ranked highly in deprivation and unemployment measures.  It currently employs nearly 150 people making it one of the larger social enterprises in Northern Ireland and pivotal in the development of the sector in North Belfast.

Ashton has sought to regenerate the area not only through the creation of jobs but also turning derelict pieces of land into thriving social hubs. Ashton’s McSweeney Centre in Henry Place just off Carlisle Circus is now an important one stop shop that offers daycare, complementary therapies, life coaching, counselling, essential skills, history programmes and good relations initiatives.

This strategic drive was recently recognised by the global consultancy firm Deloitte who made Ashton Community Trust one of its highly prestigious Social Pioneers.

This award follows on from last year’s handful of star accolades given to Ashton by the Social Enterprise NI Awards panel. In 2012 the organisation won a total of four awards with its Chief Executive Paul Roberts, named as Social Enterprise Leader of the Year.

Director of Social Enterprise NI, Juliet Cornford said:  “Again we have seen the innovation and excellence of the Social Enterprise sector across Northern Ireland. This year’s award winners have contributed to not only the local economy through job creation for those often furthest from the labour market but through the regeneration of some our  most challenging communities.”

The annual awards are organised and hosted by Social Enterprise NI the representative body for the sector. They provide a central meeting place where the sector can collaborate, share knowledge, information and best practice to create real social change.

Social Enterprises are businesses that reinvest their profits towards achieving a social purpose. They operate in almost every industry in the UK, from Health and Social care to renewable energy, from retail to recycling, from employment to sport, from housing to education. Northern Ireland has a vibrant and expanding Social Economy sector, currently employing over 12,200 people. The future is looking bright with 77% of local Social Enterprises reporting plans for future growth.


Notes to Editors: For more information about this press release please contact Ashton Chief Executive Paul Roberts on 028 90742255 or by email

More details about Ashton Community Trust are available on

More details about Social Enterprise NI are available via or on 028 9267 3223. The awards took place on October 24 2013 at the City Hotel.

Awards & Accreditations

Ireland Excellence Award